A grizzled veteran hobbled by bad knees and addled in the head lies on the trainer’s table in the locker room while the Big Game rages out on the field of a state-of-the-art stadium packed with tens of thousands of fans, the luxury boxes stocked with the elite of entertainment and industry, and millions (though not billions) of viewers tuned in from every time zone on earth.
As he writhes in pain, this Hall of Famer—the only player ever to be elected (by himself) to immortality and then come out of retirement to play again—shovels abuse at the other team and at members of his own, not to mention the refs, the fans, the commentators, coin-tosser Billie Jean King, and his own trainers as they tape him up.
Crowning the wreck of his body, the gridiron warrior’s hair glows with an intensity that nature alone cannot supply. Bizarre behavior is his brand. Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore him if you want to win.
No, this indomitable sportsman is not the battered wide-receiver and purple-topped, butt-slapping (charges were dropped on that one) wide receiver of the Los Angeles Rams, Odell Beckham, Junior, but the orange-haired, pussy-grabbing MVP (Most Vicious President), Donald Trump, Senior.
While Physical Therapist Sean Hannity massages his hero’s heal spurs, the super star himself gazes at the nearby screen as the opposing quarterback-cum-punter shanks one question after the next from long-snapper Lester Holt in the pre-Super Bowl presidential interview. This ancient Delaware third-stringer, who makes George Blanda in his long-past-prime look like a child prodigy, spectacularly confuses the Ukraine with Iraq and Afghanistan—a geopolitical flea-flicker botched in front of the watching world. The Democratic geezer’s tongue gets more tangled than that of the other Joe’s (Burrow) legs on the final play of Sunday’s game.
For the pre-Super Bowl audience, Joe B (Biden not Burrow) pitches his Build Back Better program: a pick six of Trump’s own MAGA.
What a bitter irony it is for Trump that the mighty spectacle for which football serves as the pretext—an advertisement to the world of America’s military and entertainment supremacy—is played in the architectural embodiment of Make America Great Again. Built at a cost of $5.5 billion on the site of an old horse track in Inglewood in Los Angeles, SoFi stadium is a wasteful and gawdy behemoth designed by the architects who brought us some of the most aesthetically hideous and flagrantly unsustainable buildings on the face of the earth, from China’s Venetian Macau Resort to the Atlantis Paradise Island in The Bahamas.
Ground was broken on Inglewood’s Mega-Stadium in November of 2016 just after Trump beat Hilary. This football fortress and monument to America’s fading imperial might was completed in September of 2020 just before Biden’s win, a victory achieved not on the electoral gridiron but, Trump continues to moan, in the rigged replay booth.
The conspiracy’s tentacles extend from politics and business to sports. Rams owner, billionaire Stan Kroenke paid for the colossally overbudget project himself, though not without tax breaks amounting to “only” $100 million. This real estate prince, with way more points scored in that corrupt game than Team Trump, is not married to a pauper but to a Walmart heiress worth almost as much as his $10 billion. Kroenke backed Hilary to the tune of a mere $100,000 in the 2016 election. That proved to be nothing but a piddling ante to keep his spot at the table when The Donald elbowed out Hilary and became dealer at Casino America. Kroenke quickly ponied up $1 million for Trump’s inaugural festivities. The Rams owner knows how to hedge his bets.
Last Sunday’s Super Bowl was SoFi’s global debut in advance of its upcoming star turn as venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympics scheduled for Los Angeles in 2028. Strapped to the trainer’s table and milking his agony for all its worth (not much, I’m afraid), the prone Trump imagines himself again in top form scampering up some anti-gravity stairs to light the Olympic torch in 2028 just as he’s going for the gold of a third term, his track-suited figure enveloped in its own infinitely regressing image on the 1,000-ton SoFi jumbotron, the hovering high altar of this temple of narcissism.
It’s not only that he was robbed by the refs, Trump had to endure the Super Bowl’s (relatively) non-violent entertainment. “America the Beautiful” was smothered in a valium and martini haze, its Protestant strains shamelessly flirted with by local LA chanteuse Jhené Aiko. Trump’s people wouldn’t even book her as a cocktail-hour crooner at the Ego Bar (a real place) in the Taj Mahal Atlantic City. Okay, maybe as a waitress, as long as she kits herself out in her body-hugging Super Bowl gown, its sequined sheen slit all the way up the leg and beyond the hip. This chic, thinks the leering Trump, may not be MAGA American, but she is B-U-tahfull.
Perched on a blindingly white football, Mickey Guyton then stiff-armed the Star-Spangled Banner with her showboating descant, a quick-hitting key change and an extended scat-back cadenza, that, had it been a touchdown celebration, would have been showered not with red-white-and-blue flags, but yellow ones. Word came from high up that there would be no penalty. The NFL is facing a lawsuit from sacked Miami Dolphin Coach, Brian Flores, who claims the league is run like a plantation. Having locked horns with Commissioner Roger Goodell on race matters, Trump must have thought that the NFL boss was covered his ass by hiring a Black country singer. Many others, too, saw and heard a transparent attempt at whitewashing both the NFL’s race record and the national anthem, its tune a drinking song born of white privilege and its lyrics penned by the notorious racist Francis Scott Key. It’s not the first Super Bowl at which the American colors were hymned by performers of color, but the choice of personnel was freighted with significance by those eager to spy “real change” on the horizon.
Guyton’s looping melismas mingled with the buzz and roar of the Heritage Flight Team above as the anthem soared towards its conclusion. At the tip of the flying chevron was a World War II P-51 Mustang, a fighter plane that summoned thoughts of a time when America was still Great. Guyton pointed her first finger towards the planes as she opened up the throttle on her vocal cords: “… and the Home of the Brave,”she sang underscored with the universal sign language for “we’re number one!” Number one in what, the world might ask? In football and fighters, that’s what, the F-35 trailing at the back of the Super Bowl flyover representing a weapons program that will cost the American taxpayers at least $1.5 trillion, each helmet for the pilots of that aircraft going for a cozy $400,000.
Then there was the Pepsi Half-Time Show.
Trump loathes these platforms for self-serving liberals to thumb noses and bear nipples at Middle America and Mar-a-Lago. Plus, he’s a Coke drinker, Diet Coke. He still slurps the stuff, though now has to do it on the sly since he called for a Coke boycott, not because the drink is treacly poison, but because the company is headquartered in Georgia, one of the states that stole victory from him in 2020.
In principle (or more accurately, lacking any), Trump can get behind any project, even one pushed by a Republicrat billionaire, that plonks down a massive blight of a building in the middle of a mostly Black district (Inglewood) in the name of the Greater Good and economic development, when reality serves up a toxic menu of wage-slavery, urban blight, gentrification, displacement, and eventual flight of the billionaire and his wealth. Where to? How about Beijing?
As for the show itself: There’s nothing Trump hates more than Black people in White Houses. The blindingly bleached structures arrayed on the SoFi field were meant to be modest, modernist LA dwellings: home to the happy denizens of South Los Angeles. But the message was clear to Trump: the whole show is rigged by South Carolina congressman James Clyburn and music titan Jay-Z, producer of the halftime show since 2019. This year’s roster of aged rappers fronted by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg fit a demographic pattern made familiar by many a superannuated Super Bowl act, among them Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and The Who.
50 Cent and Kendrick Lamar, the latter the first Pulitzer-Prize winner ever to do a halftime show, brought the median age down a few years. Mary J Bilge provided a modicum of gender diversity and Eminem a dab of hooded Whiteness. It was the Detroiter who took the Kaepernick knee. Many rejoiced that a united Hip Hop critique of power was crammed into a dozen minutes at the midpoint of this ritual orgy of capitalism, war, violence, and sex—though not necessarily in that order. Trump did not cheer them, nor they him.
I’m sure he hated all the ads and not just those sixty-second lies served up by Big Bad Tech. The only one that would have gotten an ex-and-future-presidential chuckle was for something called Cutwater—pre-fab cocktails in a can served up by the real Americans at Anheuser-Busch. Shot in ironically classy black-and-white, the spot introduced one ingenious lay-about after the next: a luxury SUV washed by sprinklers as the dozing owner manspreads on a lawn chair; another guy lounges, drink in hand, his tethered dog getting its exercise on an adjacent treadmill; a couple lying by a crackling fire chuck their romantic cheeseboard into the flames. Even if he’s a teetotaler, Trump couldn’t help but get a charge out of the culmination of these thirty-seconds: too lazy to lift herself from her perch on the deck of a chalet and go fetch some ice from a nearby bag, a sexily smirking ski bunny reaches over her shoulder to break off a six-inch icicle to cool her Tequila Paloma. Super Sloth at the Super Bowl: now that’s American!
As Trump watches all of this, his competitive bile surges up through his broken body. He’s been knocked down before: smeared and subpoenaed; sued and settled-out; crack-back blocked and bankrupted. But he’s not a loser. There’s plenty of time left on the clock. The great ones play hurt. Wrap of the knee, a shot of cortisone, and he’s ready for that final epic drive to presidential paydirt.
Now to find a running mate for 2024, a real buccaneer and patriot like himself.
“Sean, get Tom Brady on the line.”
(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His latest book is Sex, Death, and Minuets: Anna Magdalena Bach and Her Musical Notebooks. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)